Around the late 1970s and early 80s, the classic elements that make up what we know today as the slasher sub-genre were becoming standardized. Inspired by Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” series like “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween” were leading the way. And although “Friday the 13th Part 2” was mostly a by-the-books addition to the slasher genre, it set the stage for what would become one of the most iconic horror film killers in history.
“Part 2” opens with Alice, one of the two survivors of the first “Friday the 13th,” at home having a nightmare about her confrontation with Jason, who just two months prior had tried to drown her in a lake. She goes to feed her cat, but discovers Pamela Voorhees’s head in her refrigerator. An unseen intruder then stabs her in the head with an ice pick.
Fast-foward five years and a group of young camp counselors are settled in a large cabin next to Camp Crystal Lake. Introduced more like an 80s teen comedy that happens to take place in a cabin in the woods, the counselors are comprised of the typical stock teens– the jock, the clown, the perve, the couple and so on. On there way to the campground, a disoriented pedestrian warns them of their impending demise unless they turn around and go home.
Similar to how the “Halloween” series was meant to be an anthology series about different stories that occur on Halloween night, the “Friday the 13th” series was meant to be a similar anthology series about the Friday the 13th superstition. But in both series, the primary villain became so iconic that they became the faces of their franchises.
“Friday the 13th” is best known for its hockey goalie masked killer who hunts down the young visitors of Camp Crystal Lake. But in the original, Jason never makes an appearance until the final minute. And in “Part 2,” he mostly wears a white bag over his head (he later dawns the mask in “Part III”).
The fatalities in “Part 2” are a step up from the dirty, lower-budget set-ups from the original– even if none of them really seem to stand out. The most disturbing parts involve a shrine that Jason makes with his mother’s decapitated head in the center. This deeply unsettling mother-son relationship works effectively into the film’s open-ended finale.
Critics were disappointed by the set-up of “Part 2.” Instead of the mother taking revenge on innocent camp counselors, Jason reveals that he never really (completely) drowned in the lake, but rather has been living as some sort of undead mutant in the woods. Now that his mother has been offed by the kids in the first movie, Jason sets up a shrine of his mother in a shed and continues her work killing anyone who comes near the lake.
Ultimately, “Friday the 13th Part 2″ is silly, a little dumb, and an apparent attempt at franchising the popularity of the original. But the folksy simplicity of the film’s general atmosphere and straightforward narrative makes for an enjoyable movie experience. For slasher fans, it’s still a great deal of fun to see the film’s nine-person body count stack up in increasingly grotesque executions.
Friday the 13th Part 1 and 2 (Double Feature) is available on DVD, blu ray and digital download here on Amazon. And be sure to check out the other entries in the Horror Sequel Marathon right here on My Vinyl Muse!